Keeping state highways clear of snow and ice during the winter is an expensive job – a $35 million job, to be exact. And that’s if there’s a “normal” amount of precipitation.

The heavy snowfall and cold temperatures this winter Washington State Department of Transportation more than $8 million over budget for snow and ice removal. Here’s a look at the cost breakdown (and this is only through March, it actually snowed all the way into April):

Avalanche Control:
97 missions
221 detonations
99 recoilless rifle rounds
8560 pounds of explosives

Cost: $150 per ton
Planned use: 55,000 tons
Currently used: 85,000 tons
Difference: 30,000 tons at an extra cost of $4.5 million

$2.2 million extra in regular time
$1.6 million extra in overtime
Total over budget: $8.3 million

The 2008 Legislature provided an extra $5.25 million to help balance the costs of winter cleanup efforts, but WSDOT anticipates carrying at least a $3 million deficit into next winter. If the 2008-09 winter is milder, they could recoup some of the costs.

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